With the ongoing “Health Check” and the decisions needed for after 2013, the Common Agricultural Policy is likely to see another major reform and an increase in compulsory modulation. By employing a regional model, this paper compares the long-term impact of spending along the Pillar 2 Axes in NUTS3 areas on selected indicators of sustainability in several peripheral areas across Europe. The four case study areas are: Pinzgau-Pongau (a tourism-dominated alpine area in Austria), the Wetterau (an urbanised industrial area in Germany), Gorenjska (a tourism and manufacturing dominated area in Slovenia) and Caithness-Sutherland (a remote area in Scotland). The results suggest although devolution in European rural development policy has taken over the last 10 years, there is further need to restore place-based stewardship of public goods and services as well as private investments across rural areas in the European Union. Increasing the importance of Axis 2 and Axis 3 measures (part of CAP Pillar 2) therefore seems an obvious choice for the future. Furthermore, it is clear that the effects of wider societal trends such as the decreasing importance of agriculture, commuting and migration, can be weakened or amplified by EU funding but can not be reversed or significantly changed.